ancient textiles for contemporary living: the rapa furniture by israeli designer ayala serfati

I was recently having tea with my friend Daniella Ohad in her very stylish and contemporary flat in New York, when the “thing” she sat on caused me to get up, touch, scoot her out and sit.  It was the most comfortable and unusual pouf I can remember sitting on.  It was soft and malleable.  Not one to miss an opportunity, I asked where she got it and voila, she dropped the name of designer Ayala Serfati (b. 1962).  Now the name was awfully familiar as I had written about her incredible Soma lighting sculptures about 1 year ago, but I had no clue she also designed exciting furniture.

The Rapa series is the result of a very creative process.  One of the oldest manmade textiles still in use today is felt and Ayala uses it to create sensational furniture.  Like a painting that comes alive after layers and layers of intricate details, Ayala prepares and layers silk, linen, wool and other natural fibers and presses them by hand to create her distinct pieces whose outside “skin” looks like mildew, rust, moss or microscopic minerals.  It’s actually quite cool!
People may be perplexed as to how best use furniture like this.  Granted it is different and it makes quite a statement, so one has to be careful not to overwhelm a room with other statement pieces if you want to keep your home a home and not turn it into a gallery space.
Ayala’s work, which includes lighting, is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museums of Fine Arts, Boston and Houston, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.  She also designs lighting for Aqua Creations.
image credits: Ayala Serfati, Tel Aviv. Photos  © Elad Sarig. Her furniture line is represented by Maison Gerard, New York and Galerie BSL, Paris.  A warm shout-out to Daniella Ohad for the introduction.